Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has announced his retirement from international football in an emotional statement, accusing the German Football Association of treating him with “racism and disrespect”.
The third-generation Turkish-German who was born in Gelsenkirchen and was a key member of his country’s 2014 World Cup-winning side, has come under heavy fire for posing for a photograph with Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of the World Cup in Russia, which saw Germany crash out at the group stage.
The 29-year-old who has 92 caps, scoring 23 times and has been voted the national team’s player of the year five times since 2011 by fans, said on Sunday night that he and his family had received hate mail and threats after being blamed for Germany’s disappointing tournament.
Ozil broke his silence releasing a lengthy statement posted on social media whch concluding with his decision to turn his back on the national team
“My job is a football player and not a politician, and our meeting was not an endorsement of any policies. The treatment I have received from the DFB and many others makes me no longer want to wear the German national team shirt. I feel unwanted and think what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten.”
In the statement Ozil questioned whether he had been subjected to this treatment because of his Turkish heritage or because he is Muslim, when other dual-heritage teammates have not been treated the same.
Germany’s Social Democrat Justice Minister Katarina Barley said: “It’s alarming if a great German football player like Mesut Ozil no longer feels wanted in his country.”
Meanwhile on Sunday morning Arsenal jetted off to Singapore for the start of their pre-season tour, taking part in the International Champions Cup alongside a number of other top clubs.